guillec87

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the Empire seems healthy and strong... once Egypt falls in imperial hands the future will be secured
 

unmerged(58610)

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the Empire seems healthy and strong

Appearances can be deceptive. The battle for Egypt promises to be anything but easy. Sebastinos manoeuvred through the shoals of Byzantine politics like, well, a true Byzantine. He could look to curtail the unnaturally long life of the Emperor's grandmother and bring Italy back into the Imperial fold. His last act as Regent. The Roman army got very lucky after Nablus. Perhaps a look at the composition of the Tagmata is in order, especially if the Empire is making Croatia its next target.
 

Asantahene

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Have looked at your troop dispositions for that ruinous defeat and am trying to work out how on earth you were so badly defeated???>

Great update
 

Specialist290

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Specialist290: Technically the Emperor still lives in the Great Palace - the Palace of Blachernae is his retreat. :)

D'oh! Silly me...

The Battle of Nablus was definitely the sort of battle that could've broken a lesser empire. Perhaps the Byzantines are fortunate that they had the reserves they did to draw from, and that those lost managed to sell their own lives quite dearly in turn. Even though it ultimately didn't lose the war outright, I can easily imagine that, as Stuyvesant says, it's had a rather jarring effect on the leadership's delusions of invincibility.

Have looked at your troop dispositions for that ruinous defeat and am trying to work out how on earth you were so badly defeated???

There's no way I can tell for certain myself, of course, since it's RossN's game, but judging by how combat tactics work, I'm going to guess that one of the Byzantines' flanks charged right into a Desert Ambush and got slaughtered or driven off early in the fight, which opened up the rest of the army to massive damage from flanking bonuses. I've seen similar enough things happen in my own battles, both in my favor and against me. It's frustrating when it happens when you think you had the advantage in the fight, of course, but I think the game's tactical system adds just enough of an element of unpredictability to make for some pretty tense and entertaining battles, especially when your "last stand" actually wins.
 

Asantahene

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D'oh! Silly me...

There's no way I can tell for certain myself, of course, since it's RossN's game, but judging by how combat tactics work, I'm going to guess that one of the Byzantines' flanks charged right into a Desert Ambush and got slaughtered or driven off early in the fight, which opened up the rest of the army to massive damage from flanking bonuses. I've seen similar enough things happen in my own battles, both in my favor and against me. It's frustrating when it happens when you think you had the advantage in the fight, of course, but I think the game's tactical system adds just enough of an element of unpredictability to make for some pretty tense and entertaining battles, especially when your "last stand" actually wins.

Good point...or it was down to Commander bonuses etc.
 

RossN

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Part Two - Romanisation

EmperorAnthemios.png
The Emperor Anthemios in 1029 AD.​

The Emperor Anthemios might have made a splendid merchant prince in Venice, Genoa or Pisa. He was highly intelligent, good with money, not a little greedy and given to envoy. Yet there was too much of the Eastern monarch in the young Emperor to have ever settled for such a life. He was proud in bearing and manner with dark, serious eyes, bearded in the fashion of a Patriarch which made him look older than his years, though he was capable of being surprisingly congenial when called for and had many friends. More than any other Emperor since Haraclius Anthemios saw Asia as the key to the Empire, despite his half Italian father. Sebastianos had been tutor as well as regent and Anthemios continued the successful policy of the loyal but wily eunuch, annexing Bira and Al Jazira[1] in 1033 AD and fighting off an attempt by the Quitids to seize Jerusalem.

In a return to tradition the Emperor spent his pilgrimage in Antioch rather than Jerusalem, in part at the urging of his wife the Empress Kale who was from Melitene and regarded Patriarch Sergios of Antioch as the head of her branch of the Church. The aging Patriarch remained the most dynamic leader of Eastern Christendom, his influence recognised beyond the Imperial borders. Bira had remained a Christian enclave despite more than a century of Muslim rule and the appeal of the locals to Sergios played a role in Anthemios' decision to invade.

The conquests of recent years were slowly integrated into Roman society, but in some places Romanisation (spread by colonists, military garrisons and the Church) took hold more quickly. Perhaps the most striking example is the city of Damascus, once the centre of the Muslim world but much neglected after the fall of the Abbasids, the decline in trade and a succession of earthquakes. Apollonius of Damascus was a 12th century historian who lived in the city and he provides a vivid account of the changes brought by the Romans:

'... The splendid Great Mosque of the Infidel had fallen into near ruin with weeds growing in the gardens and cats slinking in and out of the shadows hunting for mice. The Emperor's soldiers began at once to pull it down yet Anthemios stopped them and ordered learned men to come from Constantinople, to reset the mosaics and the tiles and the Patriarch to come from Antioch to sanctify this place as the cathedral of St Paul and St Thomas, and he sent merchants even unto Persia to bring back turquoise so it could be restored...'

Damascus rapidly recovered under the reign of Anthemios but is was a very different city; the Arab Muslim population had fled before the arrival of the Romans and the small number of Jewish and Nestorians left were soon assimilated into a Greek speaking, Orthodox majority settled there. Like Jaffa and Ascalon, which also experienced much immigration Damascus was under the personal authority of an Emperor who saw them as cities to be brought into the life of the Roman world rather than military outposts solely to be defended.

Trade did much to help to the integration with goods flowing west to the established ports of St Symeon[2], Tortosa and Tripoli and increasingly Jaffa and Ascalon. However it was not just merchants that travelled but pilgrims to and they did not just travel in one direction. While none of the new territories, even Damascus drew as many pilgrims as Antioch or Jerusalem they drew a steady stream of Roman citizens east. The reverse was true on a scale an order of magnitude greater. Members of the ancient Christian community of Bira could travel in safety through Roman territory through the great city of Edessa and the holy Tarsos on the well maintained public road to Constantinople itself. As much as anyone it was the pilgrims that bound the Empire together.

Religiousmap1039.png
A religious map of the Roman Empire in 1035 AD.​

Greek had been the official language of the Empire since Heraclius, the spoken language of the East for much longer but the early Eleventh Century saw it spread far and fast as its competitors waned. The old Armenian language gradually retreated into its heartlands and the city of Edessa (which was also a stronghold of the Monophysites – after a century of Roman control and Imperial favour the Edessenes still marched to the beat of a different drummer.) Syriac was more widespread but had been in decline even before the return of the Romans, the victim of the spread of Arabic. The great success of the Orthodox Church in eclipsing the other Eastern Churches was one of the great levellers.

The other was the army. The disaster at Nablus had forced the Romans to recruit heavily and quickly. While we cannot know how many former Muslims or Nestorians converted to join the legions recruitment was very heavy in Syria immediately after the end of the Muradid wars. A soldier in the professional Roman army would have found himself stationed across the Empire anywhere from the Danube to Sicily to beyond the Tigris. He would have grown fluent in Greek (if he was not already), be taught how to read and write and be paid in currency stamped with the Emperor’s likeness.

Culturalmap1039.png
A cultural map of the Roman Empire in 1035 AD.​

Much of this happened without the intervention of the Emperor. The strong personalities and broad visions of the Patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem also played a role. Still Anthemios was a shrewd ruler with his finger to the pulse of public opinion. The birth of his son and heir Prince Eusebios on 5th April 1033 prompted celebrations across the Empire and provided a good excuse to inform the newest Romans of their future Emperor. Other births were to be followed by similar public celebrations.

This was the nature of the Roman Empire in the Summer of 1035 AD, immediately before the death of Queen Judith of Italy.



[1] I actually only intended to grab Bira because it was Orthodox, though Levantine in culture. Then the Muradids defeated the rebels so I ended up taking Sunni Al Jazira too.

[2] The port of Antioch. Note apart from St Symeon all these ports are personal fiefs of the Emperor.
 
Last edited:

RossN

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Nikolai: I'm trying to keep the Empire in her natural frontiers for now so likely no crossing of the Danube just yet. Besides Hungary is a traditional ally so I have no desire to irritate them.

DKM: Hah, perhaps an exaggeration on my part? :)

Stuyvesant: That is very well put. The Battle of Nablus was a shock in universe and out but it makes the narrative more interesting to know there are still limits to Roman arms!

guillec87: Egypt will be tricky; being under near total Muradid control a conquest could take decades unless I get lucky...

Chief Ragusa: queen Judith has now passed on to her eternal reward and I will be reforming the Tagmata in short order.

Asantahene: It happened much as Specialist290 suggested and attrition also played a part - I marched to relieve a siege with a larger army originally.

Specialist290: That is very well put. For the Ninth Century Empire of Basileios a Nablus would be a Manzikert like disaster. For the Eleventh Century Empire it is a grave and humiliating defeat, but one the Romans have the resources to recover from.
 

guillec87

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Oh.... I hope a new León would be born and rule over the Empire
 

Henry v. Keiper

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John Damascene probably would have liked that news of what became of his hometown. IIRC, he was an ethnic Arab, but he was a Christian of the eastern persuasion and thought, and probably would have enjoyed seeing them return in great numbers to the city.
 

Specialist290

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A rather nice overview of the Empire's domestic affairs. I rather like the way you've tied in details from previous updates into the narrative as well -- gives a real sense of continuity. And, of course, I'm always intrigued by the little details on the map that aren't necessarily focused on in the main update itself (such as the fact that Orthodox missionaries have been rather active in Crimea and on the north shores of the Danube).
 

RossN

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Part Three - Italy

BattleforVenice.jpg

Roman and Venetian warships clashing in the Adriatic Sea.​

Ever since Charlemagne adopted the title "King of the Lombards" the northern two thirds of Italy had belonged to the Karlings. For two and a half centuries they had ruled the country, initially from the Lombard capital of Pavia and later from Padua, perhaps the loveliest city in northern Italy. Italy was rich and populous but Queen Judith, the last of the Italian Karlings had faced many problems during her reign. The great nobles of Northern Italy, a formidable group of barons whose blood and culture was mixed Frankish and Italian were always pressing for power, as were the feuding merchant republics of Genoa and Pisa. To the East Venice did acknowledge even nominal royal control, with the Doge considering himself at least the equal of the monarch in Padova. Relations with the Papacy were (normally) warmer but the Popes had expanded their temporal control over the whole of Latium during the centuries.

Queen Judith's long reign had not made her beloved. Though married twice her indifference towards men and her passion for beautiful young women had inspired generations of scandalised gossip, eagerly repeated. Her worst quality however (in the view of many of the Italian elite) was that her heir was a Greek speaking foreigner who practiced a near heretical branch of Christianity. Emperor Anthemios had never visited Italy, though he had kept up a steady correspondence with his grandmother and genuinely wept at her death. Tears or no he was not welcomed by the Italian aristocrats, clergy and merchant princes, who saw him as an Oriental despot.

The distrust was fully shared by the Emperor. Anthemios knew the Italians only from the Venetian merchants in Constantinople and the portraits painted by his grandmother’s pen, neither of which were reassuring. He had spent his entire reign building up the Empire in Asia; a country full of ungrateful, petulant foreigners was an unasked for burden.

The coronation of ‘King’ Anthemios did occur until October 1036 AD, nearly a year after Judith died. In part this was because the Emperor was distracted by a brief war in Croatia which saw Senj added to the Empire. However the real reason was the highly uncertain status of Italy. Judith had willed it to her grandson but was Italy a Kingdom whose monarch simply happened to be Emperor of the Romans (as the Italians saw it – and quite a few prepared to think of him as ‘Emperor of the Greeks at that.) Or had Italy been willed to the Empire as a collection of provinces to be incorporated into the Empire (the view from Constantinople)?

Much depended on the attitude of Pope Paul II in Rome. Relations between emperor and pontiff were not good but when Anthemios arrived in Padua in purple splendour, fresh from a voyage across the Adriatic he expected Paul to greet him and pay homage and crown him – he was after all the descendant of Charlemagne and the grandson of the Queen of Italy. Instead the Pope refused to leave Rome and Anthemios was crowned by the Bishop of Montagnana. The courtiers the Emperor had brought with him were horrified and enraged. To them the Pope was merely the rebellious Bishop of Rome, but Anthemios knew that to the Italians he was far more than that.

Given the circumstances and the cold hostility of Rome the Emperor got off to perhaps the best start possible. Though he had neither Italian nor Frankish his Latin was excellent and spent the next half year in Italy, reorganising his new domain. Most of his grandmother’s personal fiefs were parcelled out to Italians he could trust, creating the Duchies of Susa and Ancona though he kept the royal city of Padua for himself. Anthemios had no intention of staying in Italy but Padua was the capital and he had fallen for the charms of the beautiful city, built up by generations of attentive Karlings.

PopePaulII.png
Pope Paul II in 1035 AD.​

By May of 1037 relations between Pope and Emperor had fallen so low that Paul II was threatening to excommunicate Anthemios and any Italian that recognised him. The Emperor in turn was inclined to have the Ecumenical Patriarch excommunicate Paul II, though the aging Patriarch Sergios of Antioch managed to persuade the Emperor not to go through with it. It was the swansong of the Patriarch’s long and magnificent career as theologian and statesman. Ill health limited his public appearances and he would fall asleep in the Lord less than three years later, mourned not only in Antioch but across the Empire.

A full schism had been averted but the Emperor was determined to punish the Pope. In June of that year the Romans invaded Ortebello, whose Bishop had historically paid fealty to the Karling kings of Italy but who was now a vassal of the Pope. Cardinal Giselbert was left in possession of his see in return for swearing loyalty to the Emperor Anthemios. The Papal army was crushingly defeated by the Tagmata though Rome itself was not touched – Anthemios had no desire to sack the Eternal City of which he was (nominally) Emperor. Besides he still hoped to win the loyalty of the Pope.

The Venetians had foolishly sided with the Pope during this war, to the astonishment of the Romans. For over a century Venice had been a presence in Near Eastern trade, owning a quarter in Constantinople. The Emperors from Leon VI to Anthemios had no illusions about the self interest of the Italian merchants but they had never supposed this most cunning and devious of city states would fight against the Romans. In Constantinople there was a riot and the Varangians had to be called out to protect Venetians and other Italians from the mob.

In January 1038 a Roman fleet sailed against Venice. Serene Doge Sozzo sent his own galleys against the Romans and on 27th January in the Gulf of Venice the greatest sea battle since Actium took place. The Venetians were excellent sailors, their ships more modern than the Romans but the Romans had one vital advantage: Greek Fire. In one long day Venetian maratime superiority slipped beneath the waves in a series of blazing hulks. The war would drag on for months more but it was decided on that day.

It was no part of Roman ambitions to destroy the city that had brought them so much wealth, so after the war the old ruling elite were expelled and loyal Greek speaking families with long standing links with Venice were settled there. Like Genoa and Pisa the Republic of Venice would be part of the Empire[1].

Italy1040.png
Italy in 1040 AD.​

[1] Essentially I annexed Venice, then gave the city to a Greek courtier and made him Doux of Venice. Cue loyalist, Greek speaking Doge. :)
 

RossN

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guillec87: Perhaps one will...

Henry v. Keiper:
Very well put. Of course the religious situation has just become more complicated with millions of Italian Catholics joining the Empire! :eek:

Specialist290: Glad you like it. The religious state of Europe is definitely something that will be reviewd soon. :)
 

DKM

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Reading Czoklet's Crumbling Europe AAR made me think of something; do you have SI active?
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Well...this I did not expect.

But, looks like things are back to the way they were before the barbarians came in. :cool:
 

guillec87

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So, you won't destroy the Kingdom of Italy?
 

Specialist290

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The Schism may be averted for now, but I'd imagine being surrounded on all sides by Orthodox Christians who refuse to accept papal supremacy in Church matters can't be good for the Pope's peace of mind.

Also, perhaps now is the time to complete the conquest of Dalmatia and bring the Adriatic Sea under Imperial control -- at least while the Emperor's eyes are already focused westward for the moment.
 

Asantahene

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Gosh serious empire building! I wonder is there any state that can stand against you?
 

GulMacet

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Yup. Land connection between Italy and Dalmatia seems imperative to reinforce your positions there in case something happens... like the Pope getting uppity, for example.
 

Idhrendur

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It's beautiful! Though it's likely to be a source of trouble in the future.
 

RossN

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Part Four - The Eleventh Century Roman Army

cavalrybattle.jpg
Roman and Muradid cavalry.​


The Roman Army of the early to mid-Eleventh Century was more powerful than it had been since the days of Heraclius, or even Maurice but it was a power that had been earned the hard way. In some ways the Battle of Nablus marked the abrupt end of the old Roman Army that had emerged in the centuries after the Arab invasions. Many famous regiments with legacies stretching back to Constantine the Great had been all but annihilated on that terrible day and it took the Empire many years to truly recover.

The Theme system continued to be used but only in emergencies (such as directly after Nablus); the Emperor generally prefered to rely on the proffessional field army composed of the Tagmata and the Varangian Guard. After the Army was reorganised in 1040 AD this professional force was reorganised and enlarged with hundreds of Syrian recruits. The proportion of the Tagmata that had been recruited from Greece itself had long been in decline and by the middle of the century the average Roman soldier was far more likely to have been born in Dwin or Palmyra than Athens or Salonika.

It was the boost in population and wealth from the newly won Syrian provinces and later Italy that allowed the Tagmata to be rebuilt on a scale even larger than before, becoming the single decisive force in the Near East. In 1043 to 1045 it was this professional, well-armed force that conquered the Sinai Peninsula, cutting off the land route for the Muslims of the West and East. Sinai had recently been a battleground between feuding Muslims princelings and had barely been restored to Muradid control when the Romans invaded. More than the material losses the fall of Sinai represented an ominous development for the Muradids who now found themselves contemplating a future Roman invasion of Egypt itself.

In the early 1040s the Tagmata consisted of some twenty thousand five hundred soldiers, supported by three thousand one hundred and fifty Varangian Guardsmen (nominally mercenaries, but functionally part of the professional permanent army.) Over a third of the field army was made up of cavalry of which the koursorses were the most numerous and increasingly the most important. These light to medium cavalry wore mail or scale armour and were armed with the lance, mace and sword. Traditionally the heavily armoured katafraktoi were the core of the Roman cavalry but they were beginning to lose ground to the more flexible and less expensive koursorses, especially as the Romans largely fought lighter Arab armies. A small force of very light, bow armed cavalry completed the picture. The professional infantry, making up not quite two thirds of the Tagmata were a mix of mail armoured heavy infantry with large shields, and were armed with swords and spears and a large company of archers, supported by the Varangians (who also fought as heavy infantry.)[1]

Tagmata1043.png
The composition of the Tagmata in 1043 AD (Varangian Guard and reserve army excluded.)​

The Varangians had originally been the only non-Christians allowed in the army, but by the early Eleventh Century the vast majority were Christian. Norway itself had been converted in the late Tenth Century by a returning prince who had been with the Varangians (which caused tensions with Sweden, which followed the Latin Rite rather than the Greek.)

In previous centuries the Army had been led in person by the Emperor but that had fallen out of favour in the Eleventh Century; after the rapid succession of young Emperors and the death of Prince Phokas there was a definite nervousness about allowing the Emperor near combat. However without the presence of the Emperor in the field there was always the possibility some ambitious general could take command and march on Constantinople. It was a problem, not helped by the fact that the Emperor could not entirely trust his only family who had the best claim to the purple. Prince Maximos, Anthemios’ younger brother was ordered to join the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre not long after the Italian inheritance after fears emerged he was planning an adventure to seize power[2]. Prince Valerios, the Emperor's youngest brother was made Doux of Sinai; a move cleverly designed to appease him but to give him a power base that would be recovering from war for at least a decade.

Anthemios himself might lack military prestige but his piety and constant defence of the Faith had not gone unnoticed. With the deaths of Sergios, Gabriel and Polykarpos the Emperor towered over their green replacements in Antioch, Constantinople and Jerusalem. The deference shown to Anthemios Makarios ('the Blessed') as the Senate called him stiffened any doubts he had towards taking a hard line against the Pope in future.

At sea the Roman Navy ruled secure in the East. In the West the Italian Maritime Republics were the true masters. While Pisa, Genoa and Venice were all under Roman authority only the Venetians (under their new leadership) were truly trusted. Indeed it had been to provide a counterweight to the ambitions of Pisa and Genoa that Anthemios had restored much Venetian autonomy. The Maratime Republics aroused mixed feelings in Constantinople. On the one hand they were notoriously self-willed and self-interested and their control of the Tyrrhenian Sea was both envied and feared. On the other hand the wealth they brought to the Imperial coffers was staggering and they kept the Muslim pirates at bay without forcing the Roman fleet to spread itself very thin.

MaratimeRepublics.png
The trading zones of the Italian city states in 1043 AD (note the rapid recovery of Venice.)​


[1] I'm counting only my Retinues here. I also have an (irreplacable) reserve of between six and seven thousand left over from Porphyrios' coup.

[2] He was planning it but I prevented it by ordering him to take vows. I'm trying very strongly not to be a Kinslayer which would be totally out of character for Anthemios.